Using Trademark symbols: ™ ®

Region: Ontario Answer # 305

The owner of a trademark is not required by law to use the trademark symbol. It is a good idea to use a symbol, however, because it can help prevent people from using your trademark illegally for their own products or services. Successfully registering a trademark requires expert knowledge. To get help, ask a lawyer now.

Trademark symbols

There are five trademark symbols that are generally used:

  • R (registered),
  • TM (trademark),
  • SM (service mark),
  • MC (marque de commerce), and
  • MD (marque déposée).

The most common trademark symbols used are the letter ‘R’ with the circle around it – ® –  and the letters ‘TM’.


The symbol ® is used to identify a registered trademark, and serves as a notice of registered ownership to the public in many countries.


The letters ‘TM’ are most often used to identify an unregistered trademark, although they can also be used to identify a mark that is registered. The TM symbol is used to inform the public that a ‘term, slogan, logo or other mark’ is being claimed as a trademark. It is important to note, however, that use of the symbol does not guarantee protection under trademark laws.


The Canadian Intellectual Property Office also lists the letters ‘SM’ for service mark as another trademark symbol that is sometimes used. The symbol SM covers services, such as legal or banking, rather than goods. As with the TM symbol, use of SM does not guarantee protection of the mark under trademark laws.

MC and MD

If you want to communicate your trademark in French, you can use the letters ‘MD’ (marque déposée) if the mark is registered, or the letters ‘MC’ (marque de commerce) whether the mark is registered or not.

Using your trademark symbol in the U.S.A.

Registration of your trademark in Canada only protects your rights in Canada. Although the new trademark laws may change the trademark registration process in the near future, currently, a Canadian trademark does not protect your rights in foreign markets. To protect your rights as the registered owner of the trademark in other countries where your trademark will be used, you should apply to register the trademark in those countries.

In the U.S.A., the trademark symbol ‘TM’ is used specifically for unregistered trademarks, and the symbol ® is used is for registered marks. If you plan to sell your trademarked goods or services in the United States, it is recommended that you not use the ® symbol unless you have registered your mark there. For more information about trademarks, refer to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

Get help

Successfully registering a trademark requires expert knowledge. To get help, ask a lawyer now.


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